Judiciary Committee Report – week 12, 2017

SF 446 – Asset forfeiture
HF 69 – Penalties for trespassing
HF 184 – Small estates
HF 195 – Notices in probate
HF 296 – Imitation controlled substances
HF 488 – Non-substantive Code Editor’s bill
HF 523 – Medical Examiner access to prescription drug monitoring program information
HF 524 – Drug Prescribing and Dispensing Information Program
HF 581 – Confidentiality of search warrants
HJR 1 – Constitutional amendment relating to search and seizures



Senate File 446 makes changes to Chapter 809A, the “Forfeiture Reform Act,” to place controls on asset forfeiture in response to complaints from those who’ve had property seized by law enforcement. Highlights of the bill include:

  • Minimum civil forfeiture amount: The bill prohibits civil asset forfeiture (no criminal conviction) when the seized property is valued at less than the minimum civil forfeiture amount of $5,000.
    • If the seized property is less than the minimum civil forfeiture amount, there must be a criminal conviction for forfeiture to occur.
    • If there is a criminal conviction when the seized property is valued at less than the minimum civil forfeiture amount, judicial forfeiture proceedings must commence within 90 days after the conclusion of the criminal proceeding but can be extended if a petition is filed timely.
    • However, if the property is less than the minimum amount, forfeiture proceedings can still be brought if:
      • The property owner is deceased
      • Charges have been brought against the owner; a warrant has been issued for the owner’s arrest; and the owner is outside the state and can’t be extradited or cannot be located.
    • Standard of proof changed: The standard of proof required for asset forfeiture is increased to clear and convincing evidence. Currently, the standard of proof required is a preponderance of evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture.
    • Proportionality review: Property cannot be forfeited to the extent that the value of the property is grossly disproportionate to the severity of the crime. The bill sets out factors the court must use to determine proportionality.
    • Law enforcement agencies must have written internal control policies that include:
      • Detailed records of property acquired and the date it was acquired.
      • The manner in which the property was disposed, including the date of disposition and financial records regarding any property sold. In addition, the records must include an itemized list of the specific expenditures made with money from the sale.
      • These records will be public.
        [3/28: 49-0 (Rozenboom absent)]


House File 488 is the non-substantive Code Editor’s bill, which is submitted each year by the Iowa Code Editor to the Judiciary Committees to make Code changes that generally exceed the Code Editor’s authority to make editorially but are considered to be non-substantive and noncontroversial.

[3/23: 49-0 (Shipley absent)]



House File 69 changes the penalties for certain categories of trespassing. Simple trespass, as well as trespassing while hunting deer other than a farm deer or preserve whitetail, will continue to be simple misdemeanors but will be punishable as a scheduled violation: $200 fine for a first violation; $500 for a second violation; and $1,000 for a third or subsequent violation. Simple misdemeanor trespassing currently is punishable by a fine of $65 to $625, as well as potential jail time not to exceed 30 days.
[3/28: 8-5 (party line)]


House File 184 changes the information required in a petition to commence a probate proceeding involving a small estate to conform to the information required in a petition for a large estate (more than $100,000). The bill removes the requirement that the name and relationship of each beneficiary in a testate estate (there is a will) or known heirs in an intestate estate (no will) be included in a petition to probate a small estate. [3/28: 13-0]
House File 195 updates notice provisions in the Probate Code. The bill says that any person interested in receiving notices regarding a probate proceeding must provide an e-mail address so that notices can be sent electronically. This updates the Code to allow electronic notices. Currently, the Code requires notice of any hearings by ordinary mail.
[3/29: 12-0 (Edler absent)]


House File 296 relates to imitation controlled substances. The legislation includes these key points:

  • A temporarily designated (by the Board of Pharmacy) controlled substance will remain as such for two years. If the Legislature does not act to make it permanent, the temporary designation is repealed. Current law provides that a temporarily designated controlled substance will remain as such until 60 days after the convening of the next regular session of the Legislature.
  • All imitation controlled substances are placed on the controlled substances schedules, thus making the penalties for possession, manufacture and distribution comparable to the penalties for controlled substances. It is currently an aggravated misdemeanor to possess, manufacture or distribute an imitation controlled substance. Placing imitation controlled substances in the controlled substances schedule will generally enhance penalties depending upon the amount of controlled substances.
  • Synthetic opioids are placed on the list of schedule I controlled substances.
    [3/29: 11-1(Taylor “no”; Edler absent)]


House File 523 provides the state medical examiner or county medical examiners and their investigators access to the Drug Prescribing and Dispensing Information Program when the information relates to an investigation they are conducting.
[3/28: 13-0]


House File 524, as amended in Committee, allows the Board of Pharmacy to enter into agreements with other states for mutual exchange of information relating to a prescription database or monitoring program. Current law limits these agreements to bordering states and Kansas.

[3/29: 12-0 (Edler absent)


House File 581 requires that search warrants relating to criminal cases that result in dismissal or acquittal be kept confidential. The Supreme Court will write rules and the effective date of the legislation will be the date the rules become effective.
[3/28: 13-0]


House Joint Resolution 1 proposes to amend Section 8 of Article I of the Iowa Constitution relating to search and seizures. The resolution proposes making electronic communications and data protected against unreasonable seizures and searches.
[3/29: 12-0 (Edler absent)]